Some of my Japanese mnemonics

Justin Bieber at the 2010 White House Easter E...
Yuumei have heard of this little sodateru…

I don’t hold with using mnemonics usually in language learning, but with Japanese there is so much going on at once in a word – the various readings, the shape of the kanji, etc, that sometimes odd wordgames and things like that can help. It’s a waste of time to try and do it for every word, but here are some of mine which I already shared (to greater or lesser levels of appreciation) on

Here’s just ten to be going on with. I probably have done about a hundred, but to see them you need to join!

1. To Deliver




That square head by the basket is like *Todo the dog with the square head in the Wizard of Oz in Dorothy’s cycle basket. That’s the moment when he jumps out, so he can’t be *delivered to the interfering neighbour.

2. Sand



If you get *sand inside your ear, the *suna you get it out, the better.

(Another, less polite one, is based on the reading of  “suna” backwards, given the fact that if you slide along a beach backwards you’ll probably get some sand in there. But I didn’t put that one up, at least not yet.)

3. Circumstances




If the *circumstances in the company worsen, the boss le-*ts-u-gou..

4.  Or less than, not more than




*Ika-rus was NOT able to get HIGHER THAN other people for long. Is the symbol on the left a bit like his broken wings falling with him the spot in the middle tumbling to the ground?

5. Season




The prisoner warders are issued with new *keysets every *season

6. Airport




“That’s a nice *kuukou clock, where did you buy it?”
“At Geneva *Airport.”

7. Deep




*Fukai didn’t realise it was going to be that *deep!

8. Famous




“Dad, Justin Bieber’s so *famous even *yuu may have heard of him!”


9. Preparation / setup / arrangements




He had made all the *arrangements and *preparations, but, being of a nervous disposition, he was still very *”junbi” (jumpy) before the event…

10. To bring up




Looking at the kanji, you might see the frowning face of a very strict upbringer. He’s a right “sod at err”-ors made by his students.

I passed my JLPT N5 exam.


In case you can’t make out the image of the score report, I got 112 out of 180. The pass mark is only 80 out of 180 as there is so much in it that even more fluent readers are pressed for time. The “grades” amounted to A for vocabulary , A for grammar and B for reading. In the listening part I got 35 out of 60. The sectional pass mark for that bit is 19 out of 60 so my fears that I might not make it in that section (which is my weakest) turned out to be unfounded.

So it’s full steam ahead to do the next level next December.

Answering Victor Berrjod


Victor asked to see some of the goldlisting of the Heisig book recently described in practice. I picked a relatively early point in the book to show – this is the 10% mark – and please note in this particular book the headlist is on the right and the first distillation on the left.  No frames were actually distilled out on this page but you can see the stories getting shorter.

The Goldlist Method and Kanji

Stroke order for the character 言 (word) shown ...
One technique for learning stroke order, this one's called Stendhal Method.

The following is my contribution from yesterday on .

Victor Berrjod wrote in the thread about the Goldlist method over on that excellent forum:

“I’m on my third day of using this method for Japanese, and while I know the meaning of most kanji already, knowing what readings to use is a problem. I have written 3 pages of 25 words each, with the furigana listed right next to the kanji. I realized that I’m sort of writing down 50 words this way. Would it be a better idea to have them separate, and maybe merge them when distilling if necessary?”

Excellent question. I don’t know whether I really answered, but I said how I use the Goldlist when it comes to Japanese and in particular Kanji.

The use of Goldlist for Japanese is not as straightforward as it is for many languages. I’ll tell you how I go about it, and you’ll see if there’s anything in there that can work for you. Continue reading “The Goldlist Method and Kanji”